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Sergiy Yakovenko, PhD – Assistant Professor



Human Performance – Exercise Physiology;  Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

University of Alberta, PhD, 2004


Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Germany; Postdoctoral Fellow, Départment de physiologie, Université de Montréal, Canada

Personal Site: https://sites.google.com/site/sergiyyakovenko/

Research Interests

I have recently established my laboratory engaged in independent neurophysiological research in motor cortex and spinal cord using new types of electrodes placed in neural structures and using new computational methods for the analysis of large neural and behavioral datasets. My team has multidisciplinary expertise from chronic long-term recording capabilities in animals with brain trauma to computational analytical skills to describe the organization principles  of movement control. With our current methods we can observe diverse neural processes over large cortical areas in the nervous system, and the analysis of this activity requires the development of parallel theoretical framework to overcome the limitations of standard reductionist methods. My strategy for the ‘reverse engineering’ of neural controller is to integrate the simplest computational models to aid in the interpretation of experimental data collected to test these same models and allow us to see the ‘big picture’. I am convinced that this framework will yield the highest degree of insight into the complex interactions within the neuro-musculo-skeletal system.

My current research direction is focused on the principles of interactions between the mechanisms of neuromechanical hierarchy both the context of stroke and spinal cord injury using animal models and in the context of improving control of advanced arm prosthesis for human amputees. One of the challenges for the current brain-machine interface is the lack of functional understanding of how neural processes interact within and across the different levels of neuraxis. Specifically, we have limited understanding of how cortical synergies or motor primitives are controlled to produce coupled sequential activation observed in reaching movements and locomotion. Lissencephalic (smooth) rat cortex is the perfect target for the microelectrode arrays with recording-stimulation capabilities to address this question. Building on my experience in recording and stimulation of cat motor cortex and brainstem structures I have collected preliminary data in rats using floating microelectrode arrays to demonstrate the feasibility of the methods. We have developed a new type of walkway specifically designed to create a dextrous locomotor task that requires cortical contribution in rodents. In addition, we are developing neuromechanical models for data processing that will guide our analysis.My research experience and expertise in conducting multidisciplinary studies are advantageous prerequisites to the success of proposed experimental and theoretical studies and the development of innovative technologies for rehabilitation. Results of these studies may lead to the development of novel therapies using closed-loop stimulation systems to quantify and to restore impaired motor functions.

Lab Personnel

Graduate Researchers

Matthew Boots
Engineering Ph.D. Graduate Student
Ruby Distinguished Fellow
Matthew is developing wearable prosthetics and robotics for rehabilitation applications. He is developing sophisticated biomimetic controllers to improve stability and reliability of prosthesis.

Anton Sobinov, MS
Neuroscience Ph.D. Graduate Student
ansobinov@mix.wvu.edu Anton develops models of neural mechanisms and supports lab members on coding practices in Python and Matlab.

Lisa Kogan
Engineering M.S. Graduate Student
Lisa works on subject-specific musculoskeletal dynamics using DTI/MRI image methods in combination with physics engines in Matlab and MuJoCo.

Laboratory Technician

Sarah Freeman
B.S., Biology
Sarah has extensive experience training laboratory animals, organizing the laboratory, preparing for surgery, and analyzing kinematic data.

Undergraduate Researchers

We are currently looking for undergraduate volunteers. If interested, please contact Dr. Yakovenko ( seyakovenko@hsc.wvu.edu








  • Yakovenko S (2011) A hierarchical perspective on rhythm generation for locomotor control Prog. Brain Res. 188: 151-166.
  • Yakovenko S, Krouchev N and Drew T. (2011) Sequential activation of motor cortical neurons contributes to intralimb coordination during reaching in the cat by modulating muscle synergiesJ. Neurophysiol. 105(1): 388-409.
  • Yakovenko S (2011) Does the nervous system need a Dzdriver? In L. Giuliani, ed. Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin / Institute for Advanced Study: Jahrbuch2009-2010 Berlin, p. 241–254.
  • Yakovenko S and Drew T (2009) A motor cortical contribution to the anticipatory postural adjustments that precede reaching in the catJ. Neurophysiol. 102: 853-874.
  • Gritsenko V, Yakovenko S and Kalaska JF (2009) Integration of predictive feedforward and sensory feedback signals for online control of visually-guided movementJ. Neurophysiol . 102: 914-930.


  • Drew T, Andujar JE, Lajoie K, and Yakovenko S (2008) Cortical mechanisms involved in visuomotor coordination during precision walking Brain Res. Rev. 57(1): 199-211.
  • Yakovenko S, Kowalczewski J, and Prochazka A (2007) Intraspinal stimulation caudal to spinal cord transections in rats. Testing the propriospinal hypothesis.J. Neurophysiol. 97: 2570-2574.
  • Prochazka A, and Yakovenko S (2007) Predictive and reactive tuning of the locomotor CPG Integr. Comp. Biol. 47: 474-481.
  • Prochazka A, and Yakovenko SThe neuromechanical tuning hypothesis(2007). Prog. Brain Res. 165: 255-265.

WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute